Picking Out a Job for the Pension

Luann Alshiemer's career choices paid off when she became ill.


When Luann Alshiemer, 49, of Utica, N.Y., chose to become a police officer, she was already thinking about the retirement options. She would be eligible for a full pension after 20 years with the force. "People thought I was crazy when I took the job at the police department," Alshiemer says. "I saw my parents live paycheck to paycheck, and having seen that, I think you really have to think jobwise about retirement and what you are going to do."

That foresight paid off when Alshiemer started getting severe migraines that forced her to retire in early 2004 at age 45, at which time she was eligible for the full pension. "My doctor didn't really give me much of a choice," she says. It took her a tumultuous year to get the migraines under control and also take care of her mother, who had developed cancer.

Now that she's feeling a bit better, Alshiemer works a low-stress job as a nursing home receptionist to help her two kids pay for college. "I only wanted to work part time, and with a pension, that was something I am able to do," she says. "Thinking when you are young about retirement can pay off."

This blog post is part of an ongoing series of stories about people who retired while they were making other plans. If you'd like the story of your unplanned retirement featured in an upcoming post, please write me at retire@usnews.com and include your phone number. Or you can discuss your story in the comments section.